Ferrybridge to Stanley Ferry
30th September 2013
10 miles – 4 locks – 5 hours
More lazy days – but we are on holiday. We wake, make coffee and then lay there in bed with the back doors open and the sun streams in – isn’t this what boating is all about?
Our trip now starts to mix fiver with canal, sweeping past the huge Ferrybridge power station with is mothballed jetties and hoppers, the metalwork rusting and the concrete crumbling. It’s hard to image that just a couple of decades ago millions of tons of local coal was moved to the power station by a succession of boats.
Ferrybridge - abandoned coal hoppers
But is not that the power station does not need coal – it needs loads of the stuff. The fact is that most of the local collieries have closed down and all we are left with are hundreds of flash lakes caused by subsiding mine workings. All the tailings tower over the area but these are being landscaped and the navigation north of Castelford is now reminiscent of the River Severn, with mature trees reaching down to the waters margin. The only clue to the areas heavy industry history is the strata of waste in the river banks and the occasional incongruous pipe sticking out into the river channel.
We stopped at Castleford, a place we missed on out trip to the Huddersfield Canal a couple of years ago. The moorings are both good and plentiful with water, waste and pump out available – not that we need the pump out these days. Beware – the pump out only runs for 7 mins which meant that the widebeam we had been shadowing needed two cards to empty its tank.
Castleford Flood Lock
We moored by the flood lock and were advised to follow the footpath round by the river to the footbridge into town. This was a pleasant walk, but be warned that it is at least 15 to 20 mins walk to reach the shops. Castleford is no great shakes if the truth be told – there are a couple of supermarkets but they are at the far end of town and this meant that I refused to carry more than 10kg’s of sugar on my rucksack – it seems reasonable to me! The big positive about the place is the Millennium footbridge which crosses the weir and carries you to one of the few operational flour mills in the area. The weir comes complete with an abandoned barge which has seemingly gone over the top and become embedded itself in the masonry. To my eye it’s all a bit Disney and contrived, but no doubt I will be advised that it is entirely genuine and happened during a huge flood in such and such year.
What the town lacked in quality it made up for in blackberries. The hedgerows by the allotments were heavy with them and we returned clutching carrier bags containing another 4kg’s of fruit destined for the jam jar.
Stanley Ferry flood lock
We could have stayed at Castleford for the night, but we decided we wanted a pub meal so set off for Stanley Ferry this time avoiding the gravel bar at Fairies Lock (we got stuck last time). The pub at Stanley Ferry is big and a bland family eatery but the food was good, hot and reasonable and whilst the choice of beer was not wide, they did offer Old Speckled Hen which was most acceptable.